Augsburg College Application Essay

We flew down to somewhere in Central America, and we got off the plane. And then over the course of my time there, I went expecting to help others, but it was, in fact, me who was changed.And even just when you first start reading that essay, you're like, oh, here it comes again. Rick estimates that only one out of every 20 or so essays that he reads is any good at all, that is, 19 bad ones if you're counting at home.

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But he says that he and his colleagues believe that they themselves are partly to blame for the essay questions that they actually put onto the applications, questions that always get the same mundane, suck-uppy answers from kid, after kid, after kid. It'll save him the trouble of reading something really awful.

Colleges just market themselves so aggressively to so many people. I mean, I just thought it was an odd concept because you repeat what other people say all the time. It just seemed like a very intelligent thing to repeat. And I wouldn't have to write a boring book report or even read the boring book. And it seemed kind of counterintuitive to have to generate a thing that had already been done.

About 15 minutes in, she started using "she" instead of "I," even saying, what if she-- I mean, I wanted to list more activities on the application?

Rick Clark says that one thing that has amped this up, all the parents getting in touch, is that lots of schools take into account whether a student shows something called demonstrated interest in their college, meaning, did they show up on campus?

Well, the age-old one that, I mean, again, pretty much anybody that you would interview who's been in college admission for any period of time would be-- you know, we just call it now the "mission trip" essay.

And great to go on a mission trip, great to have a cultural experience, but inevitably the way it reads is so predictable. And 20 miles outside of the village, our bus broke down, but we got picked up by a chicken truck and taken into town.And it says, "I was impressed by GT's beautiful campus and its close proximity to so many athletic teams and facilities in Atlanta.I look forward to speaking with someone from the business school.But ironically, I really almost never, in fact, see that in an email from a high school student.I actually just did hear from one of my staff members who said they talked to a mom the other day who clearly was trying to sound like her 17-year-old daughter, not so much in the language she was using, but masking her voice.I mean, it's all football teams winning, beautiful sunny day, kids under a tree with a professor. His bestsellers about Wall Street include Liar's Poker and Flash Boys. And usually, it's not many stories that we'll actually trot out, right?But this particular story happens long before he was writing books. And the choices that we make, you know, the selection that we make of which incidents we find ourselves telling people, it says so much about us and how we see the world, which ones we pick."Would you please tell me how to prepare him for admission?He will be an Eagle Scout by then and wants to go to the best school.Note: This American Life is produced for the ear and designed to be heard.If you are able, we strongly encourage you to listen to the audio, which includes emotion and emphasis that's not on the page.

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